Several months ago Cico Books sent me a copy of Super Cute Felt for potential review (I love these surprise packages that land on my doorstep). I rarely work with felt though and at the time it arrived it was beyond my children's hand-sewing skills, so although it's a beautiful book, it didn't feel sufficiently relevant to the areas of sewing that I tend to focus on to write a review of it. However, my daughter has recently been making puppets from a vintage Ladybird book that a friend bought for her and on Friday night she asked me if I had any more sewing books featuring puppets. We went and had a look on my shelves and found the Super-Cute Felt book by Laura Howard (who you may know from her lovely online shop, Lupinhandmade), which features a wonderful set of puppets including a ginger cat, several mice and a piece of puppet cheese! (I am now in love with the concept of making a piece of cheese to be puppeteered. It is delightfully bonkers).
My daughter and I spent much of Saturday sitting on the floor sewing together. We chatted, made a huge mess and I wondered at why I don't make the time to do more hand-sewing - it is so relaxing. We both made several mice and she made a piece of cheese and gave me the task of sewing up a bird puppet to keep me entertained while she did this.
I spent Sunday working in the garden, so my daughter moved stitching works outside and spent the day stitching the larger cat puppet. Her sewing skills improved dramatically over the course of making these puppets and she's now mastered unsupervised backstitch, running stitch, blanket stitch and straight stitch.
Super-Cute Felt is a really lovely book and I could totally appreciate the appeal of it having worked through some of the projects with my daughter, but more so, it's a super book for my daughter to use independently as the instructions are excellent, the finished photos and illustrations are wonderful and clear, the projects are full of detail which make them really satisfying to create and we both liked the way that the book was written by Laura in the first person, rather than presented as a set of detached, impersonal instructions (Laura tells you what she used or how she did something, but then suggests ways that you could vary it).
My daughter picked out the two projects above that she's keen to move on to. When she'd finally finished her puppet set last night and she sat in my bed excitedly talking about what else she could make. I asked her whether it was the construction elements that she'd most enjoyed, or the many hours spent sewing the details of the cat's features. She said it was the latter, so I went and found a book called Doodle Stitching: Fresh and Fun Embroidery for Beginnersthat the inscription in the front tells me was bought for me by my mother in 2007.
It's not a book that I've ever used, as embroidery has never been an area that I've really ventured into (aside from, rather randomly, this carousel which I suddenly felt compelled to embroider from metallic threads several years ago). My daughter's reaction to the book was adorable. It included gasping, squealing and, at times, stunned silence as she turned the pages.
She has fallen for this picture of a tree and a squirrel standing at the top of a hill that shows the face of a sleeping giant. It utilises some new stitches and she's decided to practise these before starting on the actual embroidery. Embroiderers: I've never found an embroidery hoop a comfortable place to work, but equally, I don't enjoy the puckered look that would inevitably come from working on unstretched material. Do you think a solution could be to get her to work on a sheet of white wool felt that would suffer less from puckering...or is there something that I'm missing about the embroidery hoop - sometimes it feels so taut that the needle can't easily be run in and out of the fabric. Any ideas or tips?
The book is really well instructed with diagrams breaking the picture down into its constituent parts, detailing what stitch should be used where. Again, although it's not a child's book, it's a book that I'd failed to appreciate before seeing it through my daughter's eyes. If it's a book that you're interested in, you may want to also look at Aimee Ray's follow up book, Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collectionwhich has excellent reviews on Amazon.
It's now the Easter holidays (hurrah!) and I've agreed with my children that I'll work for the first few hours of the morning and will then be at their disposal for the rest of the day. This may mean that my inbox becomes even more disorganised than usual - I'm issuing an advance apology for this. Anyway, my time for today is now up and, having made a mouse puppet with my little boy yesterday evening, both children are requesting that we do some more sewing. What will you be doing today?